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Women have participated in conflict and violence throughout history and across multiple contexts. However, prevailing concepts of conflict generally depict women as victims and men as aggressors. Hence, women's active participation has typically been perceived as minor, with highly visible instances (e.g. female suicide bombers) viewed as abnormal and isolated deviations from the norm. There remains a lack of understanding regarding exactly how women participate beyond these one-dimensional depictions of victim and peacemaker, despite a recent increase in scholarly and policy interest in women's involvement in political and revolutionary conflict. Furthermore, female involvement is typically attributed to personal and emotional factors with little consideration given to the possible influence of broader structural factors. As such, the research described in this chapter was undertaken with the aim to develop a theoretical framework based on population-level trends in how women participate in contemporary politically or revolutionarily motivated conflict and what contextual factors influence variation in their involvement.
The conceptual rationale for such a framework lies in the recognition that there is currently no overarching theory of either women's or men's involvement in extremist conflict. There is a lack of large-scale empirical research exploring women's involvement, meaning that how and why women participate in conflict at the population level – rather than at the individual or case level – is not well understood or conceptualised. As such, extrapolations regarding women in conflict take place in the absence of a comprehensive theoretical foundation built on verifiable research findings, potentially leading to context-specific conceptualisations, gendered explanations for female involvement, and isolated and fragmented research. Given the general absence of population-level research there is a need to build a theoretical model from the ground up that incorporates both past research and original empirical findings from large-scale research.
Building on the logic of this rationale, this chapter outlines the theoretical framework in the following three sections. First, previous research that systematically established exactly how a large representative sample of women were involved in conflict will be outlined in section 2, including the primary roles that women were found to hold.
22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS), one of the most common recurrent copy number variant disorders, is associated with dopaminergic abnormalities and increased risk for psychotic disorders.
Given the elevated prevalence of substance use and dopaminergic abnormalities in non-deleted patients with psychosis, we investigated the prevalence of substance use in 22q11DS, compared with that in non-deleted patients with psychosis and matched healthy controls.
This cross-sectional study involved 434 patients with 22q11DS, 265 non-deleted patients with psychosis and 134 healthy controls. Psychiatric diagnosis, full-scale IQ and COMT Val158Met genotype were determined in the 22q11DS group. Substance use data were collected according to the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.
The prevalence of total substance use (36.9%) and substance use disorders (1.2%), and weekly amounts of alcohol and nicotine use, in patients with 22q11DS was significantly lower than in non-deleted patients with psychosis or controls. Compared with patients with 22q11DS, healthy controls were 20 times more likely to use substances in general (P < 0.001); results were also significant for alcohol and nicotine use separately. Within the 22q11DS group, there was no relationship between the prevalence of substance use and psychosis or COMT genotype. Male patients with 22q11DS were more likely to use substances than female patients with 22q11DS.
The results suggest that patients with 22q11DS are at decreased risk for substance use and substance use disorders despite the increased risk of psychotic disorders. Further research into neurobiological and environmental factors involved in substance use in 22q11DS is necessary to elucidate the mechanisms involved.
Declaration of interest
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